Tempest Omega - Team #4
First Alliance Bank
Internal Audit Division
Evan rubbed at his eyes, checking the time for what appeared to be the hundredth time today.
“Half an hour to go” he muttered under his breath, none of the other workers bothering to acknowledge the sound. There were only a few of his co-workers even in today, most off on assignment or having already gone home for the night. Evan had only been in the Audit division for a few months, and was still getting accustomed to the workload. He was finishing up a preliminary report for his Manager, his eyes glazing over the numbers the floated before him.
It was this unfocused gaze that found a pattern in the number. Evan blinked rapidly, sitting up a bit straighter as he studied the links that had formed for just an instance. His hands reached for pads that littered his desk, calling up previous reports. Hours passed, Evan never bothering to look up as all the others said bye to him on their way out. The lights had been dimmed as night progressed on further. His small desk stood out, the various pads and screens glowing in the dimness. It was sometime after midnight when he called his Manager, rising him from sleep
Grand Master’s Office
Both men had been conversing for some time, going over all of the latest updates across the Dark Brotherhood. It had only been a few days since Halcyon had been named Deputy Grand Master once more. He ran a hand through his emerald hair, picking up another pad from the ornate desk in front of him. It had been sometime since Sarin had ventured into his own personal mission, and there was much to be caught up on.
“That should be the last of it”, Muz stated from his seat, two black pools peering out from the strands of hair that covered his face.
Halcyon had begun to glance over this final set of information, eyes flashing in surprise as his head shot up to look at the Grand Master.
“Interesting, yes?” Muz grumbled as he pushed back his seat and rose, turning away from his newest Shadow Hand. “This information came in only yesterday, and we’ve verified it. Within the week we should have lost access to all of our funds”.
Nearly a decade ago then Grand Master Jac Cotelin had re-initialized the operation called “Tempest Bravo”. The objective was to procure funds for use by the Brotherhood. Although the main thrust of the operation had ceased, remnants remained, which were then used as the main source of income for the Dark Brotherhood. In recent days all of the accounts stemming from Tempest Bravo had begun to be closed, and all access to these funds denied.
“Have they tied them to us yet?” the veteran Councillor asked.
“No, but they’re quickly going through the various shells. It’s only a matter of time before that information is found out. I have already contacted the Master-at-Arms and the Fist to prepare us should we be found, but I want this handled before we reached that point”.
The Grand Master had turned with those final words, his meaning clearly conveyed to his second-in-command. Halcyon nodded his head as he rose, moving quickly to the exact. Darth Ashen watched as the other Sith Lord made his exit, moving toward his console to put his own actions into motion.
The call had gone out to the Brotherhood, calling on it’s members to perform a mission for the Dark Council. Halcyon now addressed those who had responded, his holographic image flickering before those who had accepted the mission.
You and your team has received the mission details. Although seemingly simple, the mission itself involves the very future of the organization. Fail, and we will see a battle on two fronts; both militarily and financially. Either will ruin us. Both will see we have no chance of success. You have all the assets of the Brotherhood at your disposal. Know that you are not alone in this mission as others will be working to see that our enemies don’t succeed. Others will want this glory to themselves. Only success will see that you achieve it alone.
Contact me regarding what you enquire. Time is of the essence.
The image suddenly winked out, leaving those listening to immediately set their plans in motion
A pile of ancient leather bound books and scrolls yellowed from age laid in front of Diclonius. He flipped through a rather lengthy book about the history of various dark Jedi cults that have risen and fallen over the ages. Tirelessly, the Zeltron had been spending the last few weeks trudging through the various libraries in the Shadow Academy, scavenging any archaic information he could us to strengthen his affinity to the dark side. It had been months since his promotion to Protector and he was getting anxious, fearful that maybe his Master and those around him had lost faith in his abilities. To ease the ever growing paranoia, Diclonous had taken to living in the Shadow Academy, spending nearly every waking moment learning all he could to ease his thirst for knowledge and prove he wasn’t slipping. He placed the book aside and unfurled one of the scrolls to cross reference a name he had read earlier.
The many libraries situated between the quadruple towers of the Shadow Academy were rarely visited by more than a handful of prospective students at a time. It wasn’t uncommon to find oneself the only patron to spill over the contents of the ancient histories for hours undisturbed by the presence of anyone else. Diclonius had grown accustomed to the quiet solitude that the stone chambers often possessed and that is why on this day that the beep of his comlink caught the Krath off guard.
Carefully laying down the yellow parchment, Diclonius tapped the wrist comm.
“Apprentice,” the cold hateful voice of Master Biask cut the silence of the library. “The Dark Council has requested assistance on a delicate matter. A small team is being assembled. My former student, Lokasena Corvinus, and your…” Vodo Biask paused as if ashamed of what he was about to say, “Arconan acquaintance, Dralin Fortea, have volunteered for the assignment. They’re already on their way to the Great Hall on Karufr. Don’t make me wait.” The last sentence came out as a threat more than an order.
The comlink went dead before Diclonius had a chance to respond. Without hesitation, the Zeltron pushed away from the heavy wooden desk and hurried through the stone corridors of the Shadow Academy. After weeks of worry that he was slowly being forgotten, he now had the opportunity to prove himself.
He clambered into the shuttle that he flew to Lyspair and took off, quickly climbing through the planet’s atmosphere. His course was set for the Kr’Tal System.
Diclonius stepped off the ramp of the shuttle from Lyspair when he heard the sound of a clipped, irritated Coruscanti accent from the shuttle bay next to his.
“You just performed a weapon scan on me as I left the shuttle, you idiot! Why do I need one just to leave the room?”
“Sir, Taldryan safety regulations state that anyone with your shuttle’s origin is to be treated as a possible security threat, invited or not.”
The Protector left his bay and turned the corner to see Dralin Fortea, with his arms outstretched as no fewer than three security officers monitored him with handheld weapon scanners. It had been seven years since he had seen the young man, back when they were both operating out of the Outlander Club in the Uscru District of Coruscant. The small, quiet assassin’s apprentice had grown into a confident assassin in his own right, as Diclonius could see, and it hadn’t surprised him to hear that he had fallen in with Tarentum at first, and then Arcona, as both Houses were known for their assassins. Dralin looked up and spotted Diclonius, anxious to remove himself from the security agents’ handling. When they finally released him, he stepped forward and shook the Taldryan apprentice’s hand.
“It’s good to see you again, though I must say, I hadn’t expected you to become a dark Jedi, and a Taldryan at that,” Dralin said with a grin. The last time they had met, Dralin’s mother had purchased information from Diclonius, and it was on that mission that Dralin exhibited Force sensitivity. They hadn’t seen each other since, but Dralin had counted Diclonius as one of the catalysts that sent him along his current path.
“I’m glad we’re working together on this,” Diclonius said as he shook Dralin’s hand and returned his grin. “If anyone can get around Coruscant, it’s us.”
The two dark Jedi quickly boarded a third shuttle bound for the Grand Hall, eager to be about their task, their progress impeded only by the security checks Dralin had to endure after entering and leaving every major room. The two Coruscanti expats caught up with each others’ stories on the uneventful shuttle ride, and before long had landed just outside the walls of the Grand Hall.
“Sir, is this supposed to_”
“Don’t ask, don’t tell little one.” Sena said to the Novice he had bribed to take care of the security sweeps of his laboratory, while Sena was away. She was staring at one of his specimen jars. Clearly the young woman was upset by the term “little one”, Lokasena didn’t care. And besides, she was quite petite.
“I want you to know, sir, that I’m honored you chose me for this assignment. I’ll get the chance to learn from your work. I have always admired it. This was a very good idea.”
The Priest looked up with a cold expression, yet what seemed an insane fury that fueled the fire in his eyes. “The gravitational constant was a good idea… Hyperdrives where a great idea… I’m still uncertain as to whether you can live up to your task, Novice. But as my experiments moved forward, it has become increasingly difficult for me to find people willing to come close enough to my lab for this sort of job. And since you jumped at this marvelous opportunity, I chose you. Do a good job and you will get your reward. Just don’t touch anything, besides the security panel, while I’ovice with the uncertain impression she had just been threatenend, Sena started his long stroll to the Great Hall of Taldryan.
The weather was nice and the landscape quite green. Sena wished he never agreed to this, already. He didn’t like sunlight as much, anymore. But he would just have to bite through it, because Taldryan needed him once again.
Karufr, Kr’Tal System
The nearly seven foot tall Krath Epis sauntered beside the reigning Quaestor of Taldryan, Shaz’air Taldrya. His heavy metal foot-steps reverberated against the stone walls of the Great Hall. The Quaestor was in deep contemplation and was content that they walked in silence.
“I’ll pass word that you may use whatever Crescent Order resources you require”, Shaz’air said at last, conveniently as they emerged from the narrow corridor into the impressively tall axial chamber that ran the length of the temple.
As the Arconan slid into the room, rounding out the small team, Vodo took up a datapad and committed much of the information to memory for use at a later time. He wasn’t pleased that the Dark Council had seen it fit to pair him with the Human male. The former Taldryan Consul made his hostility to the man easily perceptible through the Force, his dark scowl further enhanced by the aura surrounding him.
“Now that we are assembled, I’d like to go over what we know and what we’re going to do”, Vodo opened the briefing without hesitation.
Diclonius, the Twi’lek’s only official apprentice sat stalwartly, eying the Arconan with familiarity and a semblance of camaraderie. He remained seated and listened carefully however.
“Quaestor Taldrya has allowed us the use of Taldryan Intelligence operatives who have gone on ahead of us to Galactic City. They’ll set up a temporary network of contacts and caches for us to draw on while on-mission. They will also be conducting our field work and meet & greets in our stead.”
Dralin raised and eyebrow questioningly, “TalSec Intelligence? I can’t imagine the Deputy Grand Master would like that too much…”
“And what Lord Bias does not know only benefits us”, the Krath retorted, “and beside, these Agents aren’t TalSec in the strictest sense. Perhaps when I find less reason to send your various pieces back to Quaestor Erinos, I’ll fill you in, but until then you can be content knowing they are professionals and utterly loyal to me.”
Lokasena readjusted his seated posture, making a big effort to appear unfazed by the Twi’lek’s tough-guy act, “Crescent Order then, huh? What else are we bringing? Party favors?”
Dark Council Shuttle Malcontent
The imperial-vintage shuttle was aging rather gracefully. It wasn’t as though the rushed craftsmanship was to blame, but rather the Dark Council didn’t spend money where it didn’t have to, and if their monetary interests were better served by demanding longevity out of their equipment, then that was the name of the game. In much the same way, the plan that Diclonius and Dralin laid out saved the Brotherhood the little money is had left, closed the existing sources of income, and established a new network of monetary gain. They detailed very thoroughly what they hoped to accomplish, in what time-frame, and with what resources.
“The Deputy Grand Master approved all these resources nearly immediately. We estimate that the preliminary stages can be accomplished within the week, the intermediate in another, and done and finished within the month”, Dralin put down the datapad he had stored his notes on and used to control the holo-display in the Shuttle’s cabin.
No one voiced a complaint with the plan as the shuttle ramped up to lights peed on its last leg of the trip to Coruscant.
Arkanian Shuttle Malcontent
Registered: Arkanian Holdings Ltd.
The nondescript shuttle slipped from Hyperspace, broadcasting its identification and authorizations. Planetary Flight Control cleared it to enter the atmosphere and land at one of the newly constructed Space Ports in the Northern Hemisphere near the old Senate District. As the wind rushed past, repulsors worked to fight the pull of gravity and slow the descent of the ship. As its airspeed tapered and became more regular, the pilot maneuvered the shuttle to its destination and touched down a few minutes later with gentle grace.
The Dark Jedi emerged from the shuttle in an enclosed hangar, out of view, in the space port’s VIP landing zone. They carried what luggage they’d brought with them and saw to it that the valet-drones got to work promptly. A black stretch hover-car awaited them outside the hangar and discreetly moved them to a loft over looking several much smaller towers. The loft, accessible by turbolift and external landing pad only was as secure a safe house the non-Coruscanti Vodo could imagine.
He emerged from the hover-car and peered across the great expanse of the Capital planet towards the south. There, the pull of the Dark Side drew his gaze. His studies had indicated that the old Jedi Temple had been built atop a Dark Side nexus of considerable strength. Without the capstone of the Jedi’s strength rebuilt to pre-Vong War strength, he could feel its eddies and current all around him.
Evidence of the war, now four years distant, was still everywhere. Alien foliage clung to stone and concrete surfaces while a glimmer of a small planetary ring could be seen in the sky. This was not the planet-spanning city that had ruled the Galaxy and been the sought-after prize of hundreds of Dark Jedi. This was the newly rebuilt, and still rebuilding, center of a devastated Galaxy still reeling from the wounds the Yuuzhan Vong inflicted upon it.
Vodo looked at his Apprentice who had followed him out of the strecth hover-car, “Let’s get to work”.
First Alliance Bank
Internal Audit Division
“See this number?” Evan pointed to a bank transaction on a datapad that, to an untrained eye, looked like all the lines of numbers and corresponding codes surrounding it. “It’s one a few patterns I’ve located so far.”
“What are you suggesting Evan, that there is some sort of system glitch?” Kamal Rom, Manager of the Internal Audit Division, asked, cutting Evan’s explanation short.
“No. Each transaction originates from unique sources, but all channel into one location. It could be a virus, or someone from inside is laundering money into a private account,” Evan glanced up to his Manager who stared at the numbers. “The cause, nor the location of the funds, has yet to be determined.”
Manager Rom snapped his attention to the newest member of his division. “What do you mean they haven’t been discovered?”
“We… Due to the rebuilding project, we are receiving millions of transactions. On top of this, our systems are still being restored. Both of these are causing bottleneck nightmares; it was lucky we even caught this. I tried back tracking these patterns and I’ve found the exact same instances dating back at least five years, possibly more. But we have stopped any future transactions from occurring until we sort this out.”
The Manager of the Audit Division’s gaze returned to the numbers laid out before him. “I want this resolved immediately. Now get out of my office.” Evan stood from the desk and took his cue to leave.
Outside the Manager’s office, the auditor trekked through the maze of cubicles and took his seat. Waiting for him on his computer was a flashing message containing two lines of text, “There are many more like this. Don’t stop following the patterns.” Below this line was a series of numbers that Evan instantly recognized as another bank transaction code.
Diclonius stared out window of their high-rise safe house; memories of Coruscant flooded into his mind. A bright flash turned his mind white, he thought he heard screams. Nails dug into the pale red of his palms as he clenched his fist in an attempt to drown out the memories of his parents’ death.
“It’s a different place from the one we once knew,” Diclonius hadn’t noticed Dralin approach and fall in line next to him. “The Vong wreaked havoc in their quest for galactic conquest. The Alliance is still rebuilding, let’s use that to our advantage.” Dralin turned and paced away.
With that Diclonius realized his Arconan ally had been politely reeling his focus back to the matter at hand. A small smile spread across his face; Dralin Fortea had always been one for slyness and stealth, just like when they first met on Coruscant before the Brotherhood. He pushed the final thoughts of his past away and settled around the computer Dralin and he were using for their plans.
“So where do we go from here?” Diclonius asked.
“That’s the million credit question isn’t it?” Dralin shot his partner a smile. “The Dark Council wants us to secure new financial revenue-”
“While still saving what we can of Tempest Bravo,” interjected the Protector.
The Obelisk Templar nodded, “We still haven’t come up with a definitive plan for that. However, we do have new resources worked out. There are many private companies who work outside the First Alliance Bank to protect their… not so legal funds. If we were to slip a virus into their financial databases, the Galactic Alliance won’t learn of this, and these companies won’t notice. Even if they caught on, they wouldn’t report it out of fear of drawing attention to their finances.”
“How will we get it into their databases? I’m a top notch slicer, but even I’d need direct access to their databases and I’m guessing not many companies will allow me the luxury.”
“Have you ever met my father?” Dralin asked abruptly, ignoring the Krath’s question.
Diclonius thought for a moment before shaking his head, confused as to how that pertained to the situation.
“Trust me, you’ll like him.” Dralin pushed himself up and donned a black jacket before making his way to the landing pad. Diclonius, still puzzled, followed suit.
Dark, damp and secluded. Everything a safe house should be. And exactly the kind of environment that Corvinus preferred. The others mentioned that there had hardly been any problems so far. Sena did not agree; “try eating emergency rations for three days and then tell me it’s not a problem.” He mused to himself. H took a sip of water from the small glass in his hand.
As soon as the they acquired some more credits, that problem would soon be solved. In any case, Sena still found himself to be a bit out of his element. Digital solutions to monetary difficulties where not really his forte. Now if they had had the need for a real virus, or perhaps a small protein-based hemorrhagic fever… But alas, it was not so.
He had certainly noticed that the planet had changed since last he passed by this region. Just another testament to the unholy devastation the Vong had wrought. Images flashed in his mind, ships falling apart in dead space. People dying, loved ones being tortured. Suddenly he noticed that the glass in his hand had broken and shards were slicing through his skin. Cursing under his breath and refusing to let anyone else know about the emotional turmoil he felt with anything concerning the Vong, he quickly removed the glass from his hand and bound his hand. He was just finished cleaning the floor of water, glass and blood when Vodo walked in.
“Well well, Corvinus on his knees, scrubbing the floor. This sight alone was worth accepting this mission.” Biask said with a wide grin on his visage.
Lokasena straightened himself while almost physically piercing the Twi’Lek with his gaze. “You know what they say; stay in the trenches and get to know your enemy up close. And a view from the ground, though not as all encompassing, is often far more revealing of one’s weak and soft spots.” Sena replied with a hiss.
“I can assure you, Cleric, you’ll find none with me…” Vodo said while turning away, the grin had vanished.
“ Don’t worry, feel free to turn your back on me on this mission. I’ll keep you safe enough. I’ll save the sharp point of a dagger for a more opportune time.” This time Sena’s mouth curved slightly upwards as both men turned their attention to other things.
The Law Offices of Kaiman Fortea
Dralin and Diclonius stepped out of the taxi speeder they had taken from the safe house in the Bindai District. Both dark jedi scanned the area, their cybernetic eyes taking in their surroundings. Taung Heights was once a fairly notorious crime district, primarily populated by Aqualish. When they left en mass, however, the district was redone with a polished veneer, and was now a fairly popular place for successful workaholic businessmen to set up shop. The building before them hadn't changed from the time Kaiman first set up his practice at the height of the Empire, and was still as imposing as Dralin remembered from his childhood.
Dralin took the lead, striding into the office while Diclonius kept an eye out for possible trouble. They weren't likely to be recognized, but neither of them made it this far by making assumptions.
"Good afternoon, and welcome to the law office of Kaiman Fortea," greeted the young Twi'lek receptionist. I see father still prefers secretaries he can get an eyeful of, Dralin thought. "Do you have an appointment?" she continued. "If not, I am afraid you'll have to call and arrange one."
"We don't need an appointment," Dralin said, barely containing his irritation. "Tell Kaiman that his son is here to talk to him."
Her eyes widened as she keyed on her headset comlink. "Sir, someone claiming to be your son is here to see you." There was a pause as a terse voice replied. "Of course, sir, sorry to bother you." The receiver rang, and she waved them through before taking the call.
"-look into posting a bounty on his head from your clan," Dralin and Diclonius could hear from the next room as they walked down the hallway. "There's a precedent where a Coruscant judge has declared a Rodian innocent because his clan was hunting someone as part of their government process." As they entered the room, they could see the source of the voice addressing a well-dressed Rodian. "We just need one of your friends on Rodia to slip the bounty declaration into a file somewhere with a fake date on it, and we should be able to get you off the hook." The speaker was a tall man, dressed in a dark suit and sporting an immaculate black hair style that must be the envy of news anchors across the galaxy. His dark eyes were a match to Dralin's as he regarded the newcomers. "If you'll excuse me, it seems I have some more urgent business to take care of."
The Rodian took his leave as Kaiman approached the dark jedi. "So, now that you're mother's gone, you thought you'd come for a handout, eh?" Kaiman crossed his thick arms, obvious muscles hinting at the damage they could do if he were provoked. "And here I thought you wouldn't have the guts to come back."
Before Diclonius could think to recommend caution, Dralin snarled and raised his hand, his forefingers and thumb making a pinching motion. Kaiman's eyes bulged as his throat closed, and he grasped at his neck in a futile attempt to remove whatever was choking him.
"I'm not asking for a handout, you fool," Dralin growled as he stepped forward. "You're lucky I don't kill you here and leave the police wondering how many pieces they have to pick up before they find all of you!"
"Er, Dralin?" Diclonius asked. "Shouldn't we...?"
Turning his head to regard the Protector, Dralin motioned over to Kaiman's private computer with his free hand. "Do your thing. Look for anyone he helps out regularly with a large bank account, and get their addresses."
Dralin released his hold over Kaiman's neck as Diclonius jumped onto Kaiman's private terminal, his fingers darting over the screen as he delved into the files within the system. With a twitch, Kaiman attempted to make a dash to the door, but with a sweep of his hand Kaiman was sent flying back into the wall and held there, approximately two feet off the floor, his expensive suit grinding into the fake wood texture.
"You're not going anywhere, father," Dralin said, adding a sneer with the last word, as if it were a particularly cruel inside joke. "Where did you think you were running off to?"
"You're dangerous!" Kaiman shouted, his thick neck bulging as he tried to strain against the invisible bonds that held him. "I should go to the police! Or maybe the Jedi!"
Dralin shook his head. "Everyone knows how crooked you are. Who would believe you?" He looked over at Diclonius. "Almost done?"
Diclonius nodded as he finished uploading the information to his datapad. "Yeah, let's get going."
With that, Dralin dropped his father unceremoniously, and he joined Diclonius as he headed for the door. Just as he stepped out of the room, he turned back and regarded his father as the man collected himself from the floor and stared at his son with newfound respect and terror.
"Remember, I know where to find you," Dralin threatened. "The same cannot be said of me." With those words, he used the Force to bend Kaiman's perceptions, and created an illusion of Dralin and Diclonius winking out of existence. In actuality, they were walking down the hall, past the receptionist, and out the door, and hailing a cab.
"That was a nice touch at the end, there," Diclonius chuckled. He felt Dralin close himself off, however, and he decided to let conversation die out. I guess I'm not the only one with parent issues, he mused. I suppose everyone does, in some way or another.
Location Unknown :: Record Deleted
“”You’ve done as instructed?” A rasping voice, thick with a foreign accent and dried from years of smoking emerged from beneath the black folds of a over-sized hood.
“Yes Master. Your instructions have been carried out to the letter. My people are well trained.”
“Very good”, the vowels were dragged out so that they lasted longer than the Coruscanti Man’s ears cared for, “I will call upon you shortly. For now enjoy the fruits of your labor, Doran Sulvara”.
The slender Human man left the chamber pocketing the credchip with a smirk. The hooded Cerean he left behind smirked also. From behind him, emerging from the shadows another hooded figure asked, “Was wise my Lord?”
“One does not destroy a tool when one is finished with it. He may be of use to us still.”
Loft Safe House
Galactic City, Coruscant
The four Dark Jedi sat around the table that in any other situation would have served as a place for eating and of civil conversation. Here, it served as the center piece of what could reasonably called a war room. Flimsi-sheets lay strewn across its surface along with half-finished Caf and inkings of various plans, initiatives, and reports.
The former Consul eyed over the small team, wondering what had possessed the Grand Master or his newly appointed Deputy to assemble such a seemingly random assortment of persons. Vodo, for all his expertise in combat and the arcane, was hardly fit for stealth work or wandering about a highly urban planet due to his prosthetics. His Apprentice had grown up on this planet but that was before the Vong had rendered it in their own image and the same went for the Arconan, Dralin. Lokasena most of all seemed miss-appropriated. The Priest was something of Taldryan’s mad scientist and loathed to be dragged from the small basement-level room he called his lab.
Lord Ashen was no fool however and Vodo recognized that everyone here served some purpose, even if he alone could not see it. He reminded himself that they too were nothing unique. The Grandmaster would be thoughtless to entrust the future of the Brotherhood’s finances to a single team of Equites and a Journeyman. There would have to be other teams on-planet at this point if not in other systems performing the exact same operation they themselves had set to.
Dralin picked up his mug and drained what was left of the cold, bitter drink, “We managed to place the virus. We should begin seeing results from that account within a few hours. The target shouldn’t notice a thing until his next audit which my Father would fight in court under normal circumstances. Additionally, Dic and I managed to gain access to several other less-than-legal establishments and founded a presence within their systems as well.”
“Perhaps you should have taken more care to be less visible when entering a highly trafficked law building in the heart of the City”, Sena rapped his knuckles in boredom on the table, “Seems only prudent…”
Dralin nodded silently to the Priest, not willing to take up his saber over a small jab just yet, “Of course. I will admit it was something of a personal visit on top of business.”
Vodo stood from his stool, flexing his back muscles which were sore from remaining hunched over for too long, “I have received word from our agents that their operations were a success as well. Likewise with Templar Fortea’s, we should begin receiving our venture capital in a mere matter of hours.”
A few nods around the table were all the jubilation the assembled Dark Jedi showed as the Epis continued, “Tomorrow morning we’ll begin on the second part of our plan. I trust you’re all aware of your roles?”
Again he was met by several nods, “Excellent. We should retire for now. There’s no use losing any sleep at this point. Lokasena, would you do me the honor of maintaining first watch? You may wake me in several hours.”
Loft Safe House
Galactic City, Coruscant
Blind… trapped. Diclonius tried to cough but his lungs were filled with dust. Blood streamed through a ragged hole in his right hand. Tears of anger and pain ran down his cheeks, muddying the fine film of filth on his face. The scene was oddly familiar yet surreal. Exerting as much force as he could muster, the Zeltron pushed up, using his back to clear the way. Nothing budged. He pushed harder and the refuse began to shake. When Diclonius stopped and the pile still rumbled; twisted metal groaning under the weight of tons of duracrete and plasteel, he realized his efforts made the place unstable. His last lingering thought before his demise wasn’t a formed idea but raw fear.
Waking with a start, his heart pounding, the Krath realized it was a nightmare. Just a nightmare. One he thought he had long forgotten. Being on Coruscant was bringing up the past he had buried. He felt a modicum of control slip and he was angered by it. The room was quiet. Pushing out with his senses he felt Master Biask and Dralin still resting. Lokasena was sitting in “war room,” restless.
Sleep seemed like an obscure idea for the shaken dark Jedi. Crushing the lingering emotions associated with the dream, Diclonius raised himself from bed and went out into the main room of the loft where Sena was hunched over sketches the journeyman couldn’t see.
“You’re Vodo’s new apprentice, aren’t you?” asked the human without looking up from his work.
“Master Biask took me on, yes,” Diclonius retorted.
“Don’t trust him, he will betray you.”
“That is the way of our kind, the weak die when they are no longer useful. I, on the other hand, still have use for my Master,” a hint of pride tainted the Zeltron’s voice. “I would have thought a Priest would understand our methods better than a lowly Protector.”
One didn’t need the Force to see Lokasena tense up at the Protector’s words. “I don’t make a habit of killing my allies, unlike your ‘Master’, so don’t give me a reason to begin now.”
Diclonius let it slide and silence returned to the room. Taking a seat at the computer terminal across from Sena, the Zeltron pulled out his datapad containing all the Tempest Bravo accounts and code. He flipped through the information as Ideas poured through his head. Computers thrilled him; the notion that one file could destroy a whole mainframe or take a government offline for a moment was euphoric. As different solutions poured into his mind, he plucked various thoughts and melded them into what he envisioned would be the most efficient safeguard for the future of the Brotherhood. His fingers began tapping away furiosily. Within an hour he had laid the groundwork for his virus.
The Coruscanti skyline glowed peach with the rising sun. It had taken him all night, but the virus was finished. Diclonius waited for the remaining members of the team to awake; Sena, like the Zeltron seated across from him, had never gone to bed instead opting to work on sketches that Diclonius couldn’t clearly make out. He heard rumors about the Priest’s bizarre habits, but had not had a chance to confirm the gossip.
Diclonius didn’t have to wait long. Following each other out, Vodo Biask and Dralin Fortea entered the living room.
“I’m glad you are making yourself useful apprentice,” Master Vodo stated. Diclonius stole a glance at Sena who went rigid; a smile formed on the Protector’s red lips.
“The virus is complete Master.” Vodo nodded in approval. “Instead of funneling the credits directly to the Brotherhood’s accounts, as it’s currently set up, the virus will modify the still undiscovered Tempest Bravo transactions and funnel them into a series of businesses that would be created using the revenue derived from the virus Dralin and I planted.” Diclonius gave a slight nod to his Arconan friend. “Once the money reaches these chains of businesses, it will then transfer back and forth as normal transactions. If ever audited, the records will simply show that the various Brotherhood owned corporations are in a trade agreement; nothing out of the ordinary. As a failsafe, in case the accounts are ever linked, a single activation code will erase any traces of the transactions before liquidating the corporations.”
“Impressive. Very impressive apprentice,” the Krath apprentice sensed the slightest praise in his master’s voice.
“There is one problem," Dralin noted.
Diclonius nodded before continuing, "We need to upload it directly into the bank's mainframe."
Loft safe house
Galactic city, Coruscant
It was dark, so dark. The calm waves of water, that usually represented the calm serenity in Sena’s mind, were starting to have frothy tops. The water was all but serene, the sky was dark and clouded and sharp rocks were starting to form instead of the white, sandy beach. But this was all in his head and simply a metaphor for the bad gut feeling he had about this hole business.
Infiltrating a bank undetected and uploading this virtual contraption which Diclonius called a “virus” was not something Lokasena liked to put his brilliant mind to.
“A virus…?” he mused to himself. “These people wouldn’t recognize a virus if it nestled in their brains and started to liquefy them.” He raised an eyebrow in surprise at the new and interesting idea which had just formed in his mind out of sheer annoyance. And the most annoying part was that Vodo had sent him to escort Diclonius.
“Why can’t Drallin go? He and the Protector seem to work well together!” Sena had objected.
“You have to play nice too, Corvinus.” Was Vodo’s reply. “Besides, it’s time you started to pull your weight around here.”
And so Corvinus and Diclonius were walking through the exit corridor of the safe house, getting ready to make their way to the bank. But something didn’t seem right, and yet Sena couldn’t pinpoint the source. They were almost at the door when it hit him, like a ton of bricks. Just as Diclonus hurried to catch up to the Priest, Sena tried to extend his hand and call out to Diclonus to get down, but it was already too late. The threat that grew in Sena’s mind suddenly exploded, just as exponentially as the real explosion that came from within the door through which they were going to pass. Sena did all he mentally could to protect himself and the young man, but the blast quickly overtook him as well as the Protector. Both men were thrown to the ground within a fraction of a second. Sena’s feeble attempt to protect them had at least paid off in the sense that not every bone in their bodies had shattered and their skin was not completely scorched off.
As soon as it had started, it was over. A loud ringing in Sena’s ears was all that remained of the explosion. Not a surprising result for such a rapid expansion in a cramped space. Both men lay on the floor as the other two came running in.
“What the…!?” exclaimed Vodo Biask as he saw the total chaos in front of him.
Now with real dust in his lungs, Diclonus freed himself of the light debris that covered him. Had his dream been more that a dream? Had it been an sign?
The Protector saw Lokasena get up a lot faster than he probably should have, cursing wildly at the burnt hole in the door. His eyes were on fire and his neck muscles were very tense. As if it was a normal reflex, the tall Priest grabbed a small scanning device from under his sash. Knowing Corvinus, he had probably made the device himself.
“What the hell happened?”Asked Vodo, still very confused, but already in high alert mode.
Sena looked up, the burns on his face had already started to heal slowly. A painful expression on his face as the adrenalin started to wear off, he said “The explosion was caused by a rupture in the power conduit within the door’s opening-mechanism.”
“What caused the rupture?” Vodo demanded.
The Protector had straightened himself also. “Probably an overload in one of the power-relays.” Diclonius was eager to give his Master an answer.
“Doubtful, I’m detecting traces of neutrillin…” Corvinus said.
Drallin, still trying to figure out what had happened, looked at Sena. “Neutrillin is extremely unstable!”
“And very rare…” the Priest added. “It didn’t have come from the conduit. It is more likely this is the residue from a micro-explosive device, planted on the conduit and “rigged” to cause a rupture.”
Vodo stared at Sena. “Are you sure that thing is reliable?” motioning towards Sena’s scanner.
The Priest didn’t reply.
“Are you saying; someone wanted us dead and tried to make it look like an accident?” Dralin asked, in a tone that suggested he didn’t believe a word that Sena said.
“No, I didn’t say anything like that.” the Priest retorted. “But it is an acceptable conclusion, given the facts.”
“But no one is supposed to know that we’re here.” Diclonius stated, though it sounded more like a question.
“I may have a contact nearby, who could shed some light on this situation.”
Biask suddenly shot Sena a scrutinizing look. He had seen the result of cases where the Krath Priest would disappear to see an “old contact” for advice. Although the effectiveness in solving those cases could not be denied, there was always a catch. Some underhanded deal that was made, or unexpected and extensive collateral damage.
“I just need a few hours to come up with some answers.” Lokasena looked straight at Vodo.
The Twi’Lek laughed out loud. “If you think I’ll let you run around to visit some of your old spy friends, you are even more crazy than I already think you are.”
“Very well!” Sena said softly, trying to let the fool’s comment pass. “I’ll take the little one with me.” The Priest nodded at the Protector.
Diclonius suddenly felt a knot in his stomach…
Vodo shook his head. “That won’t be necessary,” he said. “We’ll have TalSec look into it. We need to focus on completing the mission.”
Dralin nodded in agreement. “Diclonius and I need to upload that virus to the bank’s mainframe.”
“I don’t even know how we plan to do that,” Diclonius said, shaking his head. “It will be hidden in the back, protected by security guards doing patrols.”
Dralin grinned. “You weren’t the only one doing work last night. I have a plan.”
“Well, it looks like you have this under control. I’ll monitor you from here,” Vodo said. “You’re useful… for an Arconan.”
Dralin nodded toward the former Taldryan Consul, accepting that it was probably as much praise as he could expect from him.
First Alliance Bank
1700 hours local time
Diclonius waited in the lobby of the bank impatiently. Dralin hadn’t told him exactly how he was getting the two of them into the mainframe, and the Protector never liked being left out of the loop. Feeling anxious, Diclonius stood up from the lobby chair, examining a nearby decorative vase.
“Stop right there!” Diclonius froze as he heard someone shout nearby. Turning, he saw a security guard approach him with stuncuffs, his neck straining at the collar of his uniform as he puffed out in an attempt to look more authoritative.
“Is there a problem, sir?” Diclonius asked in an attempt to quell the situation before Dralin showed up.
Without saying a word, the security guard grabbed the Protector by the wrist and twisted, bringing the older man into a hammer lock with surprising strength. Before Diclonius could do anything, his other wrist was already twisted behind him and locked into the stuncuffs.
“What are you doing?” he asked, his mind instantly dropping into a slight panic. “I haven’t done anything!”
“Quiet! I saw what you did! You’re coming with me!” With that, the guard hauled Diclonius before him, marching him toward the innocuous doors next to the main teller desk.
The security guard at the door chuckled at the man who held Diclonius. “What’d this guy do, Branak? And hour into your shift and you’re already taking someone back to the holding cell?”
The man, Branak, nodded. “I saw him try to palm someone else’s credchip. I’ll take him until we can get a hold of the police.” Returning the nod, the second security guard opened the door for Branak and his unwilling guest.
“So, where’s this mainframe at?” Branak asked, his gruff voice sounding strange to Diclonius’ ears.
“Wait, what?” The Protector turned his head, staring back at his captor. “Dralin?”
With a grin, the man who appeared to be Branak said, “Get us to the mainframe, I’ll fill you in.” He unlocked the stuncuffs, allowing Diclonius to pull his arms back and get circulation going again.
“Okay, it should be toward the back of this area.”
After taking a few turns in the taupe-colored halls, they came across a door labeled “MAINFRAME”. Branak grinned again. “Helpful of them.” Once inside, Diclonius turned to regard his would-be captor, and watched as his form rippled and melted, becoming that of his friend Dralin.
“Wow,” Diclonius said in amazement. “How did you pull off that good of an illusion on short notice?”
“It wasn’t an illusion,” Dralin replied, blinking as he readjusted himself. “I’m an Obelisk. I can do something you Krath don’t know about. Suffice to say, I met Branak after his shift last night at a bar. He won’t be waking up for a couple days after he drank what I slipped into his brandy, and that gave me the opportunity to study him and temporarily take his place here today.” Dralin walked up to the mainframe, and slid open a side panel. “It was difficult to maintain, but I’ve been practicing. I’m going to be getting a good night’s sleep tonight, I can tell you that much.”
Diclonius pulled a small datapad out of his pocket and reached into the open mainframe. Tools were pulled from his belt as he diverted a wire in the mainframe into his datapad, and from the datapad back to the mainframe, making it a part of the system.
“There,” he said, pressing a few keys on the datapad to activate the program he had installed. “Now, even if they find the virus in the system, it can renew itself.” He closed the side panel and turned back to say something to Dralin, but instead found Branak in his place once again, brandishing stuncuffs. Diclonius let out an audible sigh.
“Hey Branak, what’s going on?” The security guard looked surprised when he saw his coworker leading the suspect back out of the back rooms.
“He’s got nothing on him,” Branak said with an annoyed tone. “He’s either the worse thief I ever met, or I’m just getting jumpy.” He pushed Diclonius forward toward the door. “Come on, I’m kicking you out of here. Maybe walk you a few blocks so that you take the hint, huh?”
Before long, Dralin and Diclonius were on their way back to the safe house. Sitting in the rented speeder, the Protector could see how worn out Dralin must have been feeling; it wasn’t an easy thing to become another person through the Force.
Location Unknown :: Record Deleted
The dark hood hid his frown, but despite the lack of a clear view the skittish man before him could feel the Cerean’s displeasure. The man looked around the room, which seemed to absorb any excess light that the two dim wall-mounted fixtures emitted. It was barren and ascetic, just as he would imagine a Dark Jedi’s hide away. He just hadn’t expected the hideout to be half-way up one of the few rebuilt skyscrapers on the planet.
Clearing his throat he attempted to put on a business-like persona, one he would assume with a client and a partner, “I’m glad that you agreed to see me Master…?”
“My name is of no importance to you”
Taken aback by the sternness of the robed figure’s tone, “Very well… As I instructed my courier to tell you, I’ve come into contact with some persons of… interest… to you.”
The Cerean nodded beneath his hood and took a seat behind a grand wooden desk. Simple and elegant, the plainness of the desk spoke much of the wealth of its owner, “For that, I am grateful Mr. Fortea. What would you like in compensation? Bonds? Stock? An unfortunate accident for a rival perhaps?”
Kaiman swallowed the knot in his throat and took a gentle breath to calm his nerves, “Nothing so tangible. I would merely like to see our relationship bloom into a full business partnership. As of late I’ve had problems finding people to take care of my problems properly. Perhaps we could work out a deal?”
The lawyer waited for the Dark Jedi to respond but it became quickly apparent that the Cerean had no such intent, “Very well. One last thing: I’ve taken the liberty to clean up your problem for you. Maybe you’ll remember this if you have need of my services.”
Kaiman skitted from the room, unmolested by the two shadowy figures that stood guard over the single entrance to the dark room. He would make it home safely, and find his bed just as comforting as always. He would go about his day tomorrow without noticing a change. Next week however, Master Ju-itii-adi mused, he would suffer from an unexpected heart attack, an unfortunate side affect of over working himself for so many years. His blunder in alerting his enemies that they were under attack could not be forgiven.
The fact remained however that the other Dark Jedi were here, likely salvaging what they could of their financial lifeblood. They must not become aware that they had enemies greater than a thug’s lawyer upset at his whelp of a son.
Safe House 2-Bravo
Old Senate District
It hadn’t taken long to relocate all the vital supplies to the next safe house once Dralin and Diclonius had left. The difficult part had been corralling the irritated Lokasena into going along with it. They had contacted the Crescent Order agents nearest to them immediately. Two had been dispatched to speak with Sena’s contacts while three more were on hand within the hour in three different unmarked speeders. The three vehicles had arrived from different directions all at once and departed once everything had been loaded from the loft safe house in different directions. Only one had carried both Krath and their precious documents. If anyone were watching, they would have to work to find the next safe house.
Vodo may have been in a dark mood, but he much preferred the open air of their previous location. This cramped space, deep under the metal surface of the city-planet reminded him too much of the mines of his youth. He did not relish those memories. Not wanting to remain cloistered with the one being he loathed than any other, Lokasena left shortly after arrival. To where, the Epis had no idea and cared little.
He’s brash, but he’s no idiot. He may not like it, but I trained him better than that, Vodo mused. Of late, he’d been reflecting on his time as a Dark Jedi and the years training others he’d spent as a leader. It had taken the formal adoption of his first Apprentice to bring it all into sharp contrast for him.
A sharp noise brought him out of his reverie.
His consciousness expanded, seeking the dark nooks and crannies; the ventilation shafts and the exterior entrance. He felt nothing, sensed nothing that hadn’t been there before. He had heard the noise however. It was heavy, like metal striking metal, like something magnetized thudding to a stop. It nearly came too late, the all familiar tingling in his Lekku. He dived behind the nearest divider wall, a thick slab of furocrete. The sliding metal door at the south end of the room exploded inward, a horrible wrenching noise filled the small safe house. Two small clanking noises were all the warning the Epis had before the room detonated with a blinding light and cacophonous noise.
Partially blinded Vodo used the Force and memory to find the wall and began to walk up it with his powerful prosthetics. The Dark Side coursed through the metal prosthesis allowing him to go straight up until he reached the high ceiling where he hung silently and waited. From the door troopers poured in. They carried high powered rifles equipped with multi-sensor scopes and blinding flood lights (as if his returning vision wasn’t already impaired). They made a lot of noise and fanned out in all directions, covering their angles and advancing under the cover of their squads.
They were very thorough, though no one thought to look up. Vodo watched with fuzzy eyes as the troopers, wearing all black, cleared the safe house and regrouped in the center room where he had been before their arrival. They searched the piles of flimsy-paper that had been dumped unceremoniously on the one table in the dwelling upon arrival. Several hands came close to grabbing the datapad that lay dangerously close to the edge of the table, the one depository of information the Jedi team had of their activities and work. Vodo would have to retrieve that before he did anything else. He could not summon it to himself without drawing attention and it became readily apparent that the troopers were not leaving without collecting everything they saw.
Vodo took a deep breath, fueling the flames of rage within his chest, as he palmed his oversized light saber. In a single fluid movement he released his hold on the ceiling and landed gracefully on the floor in the midst of three armed men. His silver blade activated into the sternum of the first, cleaved its way out and across the neck of the third and plunged into the last man’s head. Before any of their allies could react, Vodo called a powerful wave of force power into his fist and sent it flying at the nearest group of enemies. It only clipped two before landing full force on the trooper in the center. He didn’t fly far before hitting the wall behind him, upon which his chest cavity was crushed by the blow.
The men were quick to raise their rifles and began pouring fire into the Dark Jedi. Vodo’s blade was a blur as he called upon literally years of Soresu training and combat experience. Two bolts deflected from the saber into their origins, ending the careers of those hit. A single shot lanced through his defense, but seeing three steps ahead Vodo was already mostly out of the way. The bolt landed on his shoulder with a sizzle as the majority of the energy was dissipated by his command of the Dark Side. He grimaced as the remaining energy burnt his skin but did no real damage.
Within another twenty seconds the battle was over. The Twi’lek was left standing, alone, breathing heavily. He was much too heavy to fight in such a confined space before it became a liability to him. He grabbed the datapad from the table and left the rest to burn in the explosion of a detonator. Swiftly, Vodo left the safe house, noting nearly humorously that its name had been something of a misnomer. He covered himself in a hasty illusion to hide his notable prosthetics and disappeared into the night with a single signal to his team.
Airspeeder Outside of First Alliance Bank
The mission was accomplished, at least the difficult part was. The two sat in the rented airspeeder in quiet. Diclonius opted to fly and let his human companion rest; the heavy Force use still weighed on Dralin Fortea. Besides the typical traffic that clogged the air channels, the journey back was uneventful. The destruction of the safe house was unexpected, but Master Biask had taken into account the possibility. Instead they’d be heading towards the Old Senate District.
“We’re compromised,” the familiar tough voice of Vodo Biask erupted from the speeder’s built in comlink breaking the shared silence.
Dralin straightened up as Diclonius asked for more information, but the channel was dead. The two passengers exchanged looks. The remained of the mission just became more interesting.
“Come on,” Diclonius pulled the speeder sharply left, “we can seek refuge in the storehouse for one of my database backups.”
Dralin remained rigid and didn’t say anything. Sensing his comrade’s tenseness the Krath gave the Obelisk a sideways glance. Dralin, his cybernetic eyes transfixed ahead, finally spoke, “We can’t go there, or rather, I don’t think we should.”
“Think about it Protector,” Dralin’s normal friendly tone replaced with a serious anger. “We don’t know who bombed the first safe house, and as far as we were aware, no one knew our presence here except one person and now the second hideout is hit,” Dralin’s voice trailed off, giving the Zeltron the chance to solve it himself.
“Your father,” it came out low, more of a statement than a question.
“I don’t know, but I wouldn’t put it past the corrupt bastard,” the human’s anger grew.
“He wouldn’t know anything about me though.”
“Maybe not, but his goons hit our first hideout, and then somehow our second safe house was hit shortly after we set up shop, it doesn’t seem anywhere we go will be safe for long. Do you want to risk it?”
Diclonius didn’t say anything for a moment, weighing the risks. Finally he spoke, “I think you need a drink Dralin. I know of a few nice cantinas in the Underworld. We can get lost in the memories of our ‘Golden Years.’”
The Krath shot a sly smile that masked the grim reality of their situation; Dralin instantly understood that the Taldryanite’s ulterior meaning. The airspeeder dipped below the new architecture of the reconstruction project. The two Crouscanti dark Jedi were returning to their playground.
The Outlander Club
While the proverbial gateway to the Underworld was similar to the merciless playground Dralin grew up in, it had subtly changed in the past seven years. After the occupation and partial terraforming by the Yuuzhan Vong, the District had grown more wild, more primal. In Dralin's youth, you were likely to meet death at the hands of petty thugs, or perhaps contract killers like his mother if you had angered someone enough. Now, it seemed, you were equally as likely to be killed by the new wildlife. This hadn't changed the teeming nightlife of the Uscru District, however, and still outlaws found a way to eke out an existence, drug-dealers still plied their wares, and people still came there to escape in bars like these.
Dralin and Diclonius sat in a booth toward the back corner of the club, enjoying their view facing the entrance. The head bartender, Bufon Taire, recognized the two dark Jedi immediately and, after a couple drinks were purchased with a healthy tip, was more than happy to give them the reserved seating. The older Taire knew well what kind of people Dralin and Diclonius used to be, and would hold his tongue out of respect for that.
"Well, now what?" Diclonius asked in-between sips of his drink. "We're relatively safe here, but I don't really see them letting us rent out the booth overnight while we wait."
"I'm thinking," Dralin replied as he nursed his customary Sullustan gin, staring down at it as if it would give him the answers. He knew that they couldn't stay put for too long, but they could hardly go rushing off blindly. As he looked up, he saw Taire approaching them as he took off his bartending apron, the newly gray-streaked in his hair contrasting with his dark skin.
"Listen," the older man began as he slid into the seat across from Dralin. "I don't know what you've gotten yourself mixed up in, and I don't want to know. What I do know is that once, there was an information dealer who practically lived here, and a tough kid who always hung around Harikka Krecca." He slid a piece of flimsiplast over to Diclonius. "I've got a friend who helps move people, and I trust him."
"You don't have to do this," Dralin interjected. "We can take care of ourselves."
Taire grinned at the younger man. "Really? A bomb goes off in a high-rise apartment, and in comes two people from the past, acting like Palpatine himself came back and was hot on their tails."
"We could use this," Diclonius said, showing the piece of flimsi to Dralin. "I've heard of him. Very professional, very loyal to his customers." He turned to Taire. "Which reminds me that he isn't cheap. We don't have the credits for that."
"I've got it covered," Taire replied with a shake of his head. "He owes me a favor, and I can't think of a better use for it."
Dralin nodded his head. "Thank you, then. I'll make sure to remember this next time I'm in the neighborhood."
"I'll make sure you do," Taire said as he stood, another grin splitting his face. "I get the feeling you guys have come a ways since I last saw you, and it's always nice to have friends in high places." With that, he left, leaving out the employee-only door.
As one, Dralin and Diclonius stood and left the booth, keeping an eye out for anyone that looked overly curious about them as they headed for the door. By the time they reached their speeder, Dralin was sure they were in the clear. When Dralin powered on the speeder, however, the speeder parked across from them also powered on, its lights nearly blinding the Equite. At the same time, the Force screamed danger into the very fiber of his being, causing his synapses to fire in response before he had even become aware of his actions. Their speeder rose quickly and then jetted off blindly, deeper into the Underworld just as the other speeder's light laser cannon blackened the duracrete where Dralin and Diclonius had just been parked.
The Law Offices of Kaiman Fortea
Nasima Fol, the Twi'lek secretary, was filing her nails as two men entered, absently relaxing at her desk. "Good afternoon, and welcome to the law office of Kai-" she began. One man, a giant of a Twi'lek, blew right past her halfway through her greeting, as if she wasn't even there. "Hey! You can't just walk in withou-" Once again she was interrupted, though this time words were not the only thing cut off. Her eyes bulged as her throat constricted of its own accord. The second man, a human with piercing blue eyes, sneered through his goatee as he gestured with one hand, as if grasping Nasima's throat from afar. The look on her face as she died was one of pure confusion; to her dying brain, this hardly seemed a fitting ending to a young woman who dreamed of marrying a rich man and live the high life she knew she deserved.
By the time Nasima gave her death rattle, Vodo Biask Taldrya was already entering Kaiman Fortea's office. To Kaiman's credit, the only reaction this immediately drew was the draining of blood from his face. He knew someone was going to come and tie off his "loose end." After all, it was what he would have done.
Kaiman stood quickly as a hold-out blaster slid into his palm from inside the sleeve of his expensive jacket. As Vodo slowly approached, Kaiman squeezed the trigger three times. He watched with a sinking heart as the Twi'lek merely raised his hand, watched as the red bolts hit the Twi'lek's palm and dissipated into nothingness. With a yelp, Kaiman bolted around his desk, hoping to make it to the door in time. A backhand powerful enough to lift him off of his feet had other plans, however, and for the second time in the past few days, Kaiman was tossed about his own office by a dark Jedi. After several minutes of pathetic attempts to escape and retaliation that left the crooked lawyer with a mass of pulp for a nose and an eye swelling shut, Vodo picked Kaiman off the ground by his expensive collar and held him against the wall.
"Who did you sell us out to?" Vodo asked. The tone of his voice alone would have been enough to cow Dralin's father.
"You mean...you're not one of them?" Kaiman said as his voice cracked. Never before had he been so thoroughly beaten, and the idea that this Twi'lek had to barely exert himself to do it scared him more than he cared to admit.
Vodo's fist connected with Kaiman's gut so quickly that the lawyer almost couldn't registered why he had nearly doubled over against the wall.
"It was someone like you!" Kaiman cried out. "A Cerean! He was one of you!"
Vodo's eyes narrowed. A Cerean dark Jedi? I don't know of any within the Brotherhood... Vodo let go of Kaiman, and the lawyer slumped to the floor.
"Thank you, thank you..." Kaiman blubbered, believing his beating to be over. He wavered in place as he looked up, and his eyes widened. Kaiman had just enough time to let out of primal cry of terror before Vodo grasped his head with both hands and twisted, silencing the man with a sickening crunch.
As Vodo turned for the door, his comlink went off. He had specifically trained Diclonius not to attempt communication in this kind of a situation, so either his apprentice needed to be taught a lesson, or something particularly important was happening.
"Master! Whoever is behind the attacks is chasing us! We're in the Underworld, south of Uscru Dist-" The communication ended with a burst of static, and then went silent altogether. The former Consul gritted his teeth as he left the office, determined to pull his apprentice out of whatever mess he had gotten himself into, and hopefully capture whoever it was that was chasing him.
Dralin's eyes were half-closed as he navigated between the towers that comprised the hidden skeleton of Coruscant at breakneck speeds, letting the Force guide his hands as his speeder zipped between the ancient supports holding up the ecumenopolis that was the galaxy's capital. For their credit, the speeder giving chase had kept up admirably, drawing Dralin to the conclusion that they had either a very skilled pilot, or a Force-user behind the wheel. The Equite could barely hear Diclonius shouting over his comlink when the speeder gave a shudder and tilted down, finally taking a shot from the enemy speeder's laser cannon.
The dark Jedi braced as the speeder hit an enormous crosswalk nose-first, glancing off of the short wall of what may have once been a major thoroughfare before Coruscant outgrew it. An emergency foam that served to protect passengers filled the compartment, catching them and holding them as the speeder slid to a stop. Both doors of the speeder popped open, and the dark Jedi pulled themselves from the crashed vehicle, coughing and taking stock of themselves. Other than a moment of disorientation, they were fine; the vehicle's safety features had done their job. Dralin watched as the other speeder parked on the catwalk, and two figures emerged from it: both were dressed in black, and both carried a blaster pistol and vibroblades.
Dralin gritted his teeth as he felt the dark side fill him. Indignant rage coursed through his system, and Diclonius was surprised to hear an audible grow issue from the more experienced Arconan.
These two are what has been hounding us? Dralin thought to himself, his inner rage building. These two are what we have been so afraid of?
Diclonius watched as both assailants drew their pistols and took aim. He heard the snap-hiss of a lightsaber, and was bathed in green light.
Red energy lanced toward them, and Dralin moved purely on instinct. His Soresu training met his rage-fueled Force use, and he weaved an emerald wall around himself. The first four blaster bolts flew off in random directions, but the fifth was deflected far more accurately, taking one of the assassins in the thigh. The assassin dropped to his knees, but continued firing as his partner dropped his pistol and rushed toward the two dark Jedi, drawing his vibroblade as he ran. As focused as he was on the blaster fire, Dralin didn't notice one of their assailants closing in.
With a bound, Diclonius tackled the incoming assasin, vibrodagger in hand. His yellow eyes shown in the darkness as he wrestled on the duracrete. The information-gatherer had never been the strongest guy around, but he drew strength from the Force, lending his muscles what they naturally lacked. Before long, he had pinned the assassin, and held his vibrodagger above the assassin's chest, straining against his opponent's natural strength as they played an inverted game of tug o' war.
Dralin advanced upon the assassin with an injured thigh, his assailant's blaster having run out of shots. Had Dralin's eyes been entirely natural, they would have surely shown with the trademark yellow that accompanied the rage he felt, the rage he drew power from. With a swing of his lightsaber, the assassin's head was removed from his shoulders, and the body fell forward unceremoniously. As he deactivated the blade, Dralin looked to see that his companion was still struggling with his own opponent. Reaching out with his hand, Dralin could feel the assassin's arm through the Force, and he squeezed, gripping the muscle painfully in a way that no physical hand could. Diclonius' dagger punched through the assassin's chest, and he leaned against it, breathing heavily. The Journeyman simply wasn't used to this kind of combat.
The two dark Jedi tensed as another speeder roared past them, then doubled back and landed next to their crashed speeder. Diclonius was the first to relax as he felt a familiar presence behind the wheel, and Dralin chuckled to himself as he watched Vodo and Lokasena step out. "Better late than never, eh, Taldrya?"
Vodo’s snarl never had a chance to leave his throat before the blonde haired priest to his side erupted with fury, “You frecking idiots! Where do you think we are? The Shadowlands? You can’t swing a saber around like a toy out here, there are people watching!”
The two Coruscanti natives were stunned. Adrenaline flowed through their veins, their minds still racing on pure combat survival instinct. Infact, the Twi’lek Epis beside Lokasena was just as stunned.
“And what is this? They’re dead! What use are these two krilling assassins to us dead!?”
Vodo reached out to the Priest gently with the Force, “Sena…”
“Don’t you get me started. Pack your brat and his friend up. We’re leaving”, Sena jumped back into the stolen speeder unceremoniously muttering something about his lab back on Kr’Tal.
Regaining their composure, Dralin and Dic dragged the two bodies back to the speeder and dumped them into the cargo slot behind the passenger cab. They were about to take off when Diclonius asked his Master to wait a second longer. He jumped out and jogged over to a melon-sized object laying in a shadow nearby. The severed head of Dralin’s opponent teetered to his hands as he beckoned it. While they waited, Dralin tapped out a command on his datapad silently.
Once they were safely back in the air and several evasive turns later the group seemed to take a collective breath. Lokasena’s back mood began to dissipate around the time Vodo’s own gloominess did which considerably lessoned the burdensome weight in the air.
“Tell me from the start, what happened. Spare nothing”, Vodo asked when the moment was appropriate.
Location Unknown :: Record Deleted
The Sith Master was furious. His men hadn’t reported in and they were several hours passed due. Of course witnesses had been located and… convinced to tell what they had seen, but it all seemed too fortunate for the Dark Jedi of the Brotherhood. An Apprentice and his Knight-level escort had defeated, and apparently decapitated, two of his best assets. This charade had gone on long enough he surmised. There’s only so much that can be accomplished from the shadows.
The well built figure of a male Tarasin emerged from a dim corner of the room, “Yes, Master?”
A crooked grin emerged on Ji-adi-itii’s pale face, “Tell me what you've discovered of these… Dark Jedi.”
The speeder had been set down inconspicuously at Dralin’s suggestion in an abandoned work yard in front of an ancient warehouse that seemed to contain nothing more than rotting Vongform fungus and crushed boxes of glowrods. The bodies of the assassins had been carried out of the vehicle and were laid out before the four Dark Jedi.
Vodo looked over the small team, noting that a day earlier they had been sitting at a table in comfort planning the Brotherhood’s survival. Here they stood now, partially illuminated by some distant light fixture, trying to figure out who was out to kill them. He looked at his Apprentice. Diclonius’s eyes were locked on the vibroblade embedded in his assailants chest.
“I’m proud of you, you know.”
Sena and Diclonius looked at the Ektrosian in identical astonishment. Biask was a tough teacher and sparring in words. He trained by showing you what you did wrong. Little comfort did he ever offer and words of gratitude and pride were never seen. Lokasena had known this man for years now. He had been something of a Master to him as well at one point in his training. He couldn’t remember ever hearing something like this. He forgot his rage for once and felt the quiver of quite jealousy and longing within himself.
Diclonius nodded his head in appreciation and retrieved the blade from his victim.
Vodo took a deep breath and crouched beside the two bodies, “I think I may be able to get some trace of who these two were.”
In a second Lokasena was beside him, understanding the meaning behind the other Krath’s words. Together they focused on the residual aura produced by the cadavers and sought the tendrils that wove themselves into the fabric of time and space. They sought the opening that would allow them to backtrack along the waves of time. Together they saw glimpses of shadows, of dark figures and murmurs of the commands they issued. The image refused to stay still and grew more and more distant with each passing second. Vodo peered deeper, sensing there was something within he was witnessing but missing, something that caused his headtails to twitch nervously.
Just as the vision collapsed, hurtling them back to reality, the Twi’lek saw something. A shape of a man. A presence that was unfamiliar to him. Then it was all gone. Only mere seconds had passed leaving Dralin and Diclonius slightly curious as to what the two Krath had set out to do. Lokasena looked at Vodo, with familiarity for once in many years.
“They were Sith, weren’t they?”
“These two weren’t. They’re just lackies. The shadows though. I… I’m not sure but…”
Dralin, unsure of what he'd just witnessed cleared his throat, "Master Biask, I have something I think you should see..."
They gathered around the former thief as he produced his Datapad and displayed the GPS information he'd swiped from the Assassin's speeder before they had bolted. The navigational information contained three preset locations, helping its previous users find their way to and from places of business and importance on the city-world of Coruscant. One was conveniently labeled Master Ji-adi-itii. They knew without a word where it was they must go.
Location Unknown :: Record Deleted
“They’re on their way Master,” the cloaked Kel Dor spoke to the back of a chair. The room was dimly lit by two wall sconces and sparsely furnished; an ornate wood desk took up a large portion of the space and behind it was a large swiveling chair. Thick grey smoke wafted from the chair.
“Based on your information, the bait is too tempting for them to not come,” the raspy voice Faer'ell had spent years learning from spoke steadily. There was a long pause as Master Ji-adi-itii took a long drag from his cigarette. “Go down and greet them.”
Faer'ell bowed and backed out of the room, leaving his master to tend to burning cigarette that hung from his lips. As the Kel Dor left, two figures hidden in the shadows melted away from their hiding spots and followed the Sith apprentice down.
Coruscant Industrial District
In the hours that followed the third assassination attempt, the airspeeder carried the four dark Jedi away from the bustling epicenter of Coruscant. Traffic was the first to begin thinning, and then skyscrapers. A lifetime spent on the Galactic Capital had taken the Zeltron across the planet, but never had he ventured this far into the ancient industrial sectors. Night had settled upon the Factory District, and unlike it’s brightly lit antipode, this portion of Coruscant only glowed dimly in comparison.
Not much remained in the area, not since a nuclear explosion leveled the majority of the district half a century prior. The few remaining reactors kept the partially functional factories operating and powered the archaic feral droids that roamed freely. The sector hadn’t seen much activity during the reign of the Emperor, but since the Yuuzhan Vong invasion and the formation of the Galactic Alliance, the old factory district has seen new life. In an effort to revitalize unstable areas, the Alliance has pushed to retake these desolate zones.
As the stolen airspeeder skirted the outer regions of the desolate district, Diclonius began feeling the powerful tendrils of the dark side. Faint at first, the power radiated from the ruins of what was the busy industrial sector. Turning his attention to his three teammates the Journeyman noted that they too had felt the ever growing presence.
“We’re getting close; I can feel a few strong in the Force. Prepare yourself apprentice,” Vodo Biask sternly commanded.
Within minutes of Master Biask’s warning, the vehicle descended before setting down on a landing platform that jutted off from one of the recently constructed skyscrapers. The four clambered out of the speeder. Instantly, the platform was flooded in light. Vodo was the first to sense them followed by the other three dark Jedi in a fraction of a second. There were three individuals standing in the shade of the skyscraper; each strong in the Force.
“We’ve been expecting you,” a cloaked Kel Dor stepped forward, pulling a lightsaber hilt from the folds of his cloak.
In tandem three lightsabers erupted in the customary snap-hiss as Dralin, Lokasena, and Vodo all fell into fighting stances with Diclonius readying his vibrodagger.
Faer'ell watched as the surprisingly resilient dark Jedi were bathed in a glow of green, silver, and purple, and looked on as the colors of their lightsabers illuminated their varied features. Had he not been wearing a breath mask, these false "Sith" would have seen him smile condescendingly as he ignited his own red blade and dropped into a Djem So opening stance. His attendants, lower-ranked apprentices, ignited their own lightsabers as well, casting the One Sith trio in red, the traditional color of the true inheritors of the Sith legacy.
Vodo charged forward suddenly, propelling himself forward with all the force his reverse-articulated legs could manage. His silver blade met Faer'ell's crimson, and the former Consul could feel the Kel Dor's strength as their sabers locked; it was rare for two masters of Djem So to meet on the battle field. The others joined the fray, and the two junior Equites found their adversaries to be a match as well. Lokasena's mastery of the Makashi form met a similar duelist in the Khil Sith attendant, and Dralin's versatility and speed was put to the test by a quick Rodian.
Lokasena and the Khil flowed through the graceful motions of the second form, each duelist enhancing their reaction time with the Force, their red and purple blades lunging forward, glancing off of each other in controlled parries. They moved like fencers of old, with their feet shuffling back and forth as they both sought to outmaneuver each other.
The Kel Dor Sith leveled an overhead swing at Vodo, who blocked it and returned with a vicious side-swipe of his own. Both combatants attempted to overpower each other as they swung their lightsabers, providing a fearsome display of the strength behind Djem So. The fifth form showed its true roots in heavy-handed combat as they stuck back and forth in between saber locks that would leave others exhausted.
Dralin whirled a veritable shield around himself with his lightsaber, providing an emerald bulwark against his Rodian foe's crimson blade. The Rodian spun his lightsaber in circles, evincing his Ataru training as he let inertia provide the force behind his blows. While Dralin was no master of Soresu, his natural agility backed his training admirably. The Arconan pretended to overextend himself in one particular block, and the Rodian lunged for the perceived opening. With a sudden change in stance, Dralin switched to his Makashi training as he deftly manipulated his opponent's blade out wide, and then carved a shallow swath across the Rodian's unguarded thigh in a classic shiim strike.
Lokasena drew upon his inner fury, and suddenly his weapon seemed to dance around the Khil's strikes, his limbs moving and reacting with far greater speed. The Khil, however, proved to be the scientist's match once again as he similarly sped up, and their blades moved with an unreal alacrity. Sena's One Sith opponent suddenly let out a garbled cry, and he was surprised to see him suddenly fall to his knees. The Taldryan snarled as he removed the Khil's head from its shoulders, and saw what had felled his dueling partner; Diclonius stood with his vibrodagger held in a reverse-grip, the Khil's indigo blood still dripping from the tip. They shared a nod before moving to help Dralin.
What little advantage the former apprentice of Telona had bought by switching lightsaber forms was lost once the Rodian caught on. The Rodian seemed to ignore the burn in his leg as he pressed the attack, his kinetic strikes battering at Dralin's defenses over and over again. With a sudden twirl, the red blade spun Dralin's lightsaber around, and then reversed direction unexpectedly, sending the green lightsaber off to the side and ripping it from Dralin's grip. He had only a second to hold out his hands in a halting gesture before the Rodian's blade connected with his hastily-erected Force barrier. Two more strikes assaulted the barrier before a purple blade suddenly countered the red, and the Rodian's blade was deflected. Before the Rodian could bring his blade back down, Lokasena lunged, neatly burning a hole through the One Sith's chest. Dralin called his lightsaber back to his hand as he turned to see how Vodo fared.
Palpable waves of hatred and power emanated from the Djem So masters as they once more locked to a stand-still. Sweat glistened on Vodo's brow as his muscles bulged in an attempt to push back his opponent's blade. The Kel Dor, for his credit, held up to the Taldryan's power with his own, and their blades crackled as they were forced together. Suddenly, Vodo brought his metallic knee up against Faer'ell's stomach, and then pressed the advantage while his opponent nearly doubled forward. As the Kel Dor pulled his blade back, Vodo's blade followed in a flowing water technique, pressing both blades against the Kel Dor's shoulder. With a cry muted by his breathing apparatus, Faer'ell stumbled backwards to remove the blades from his burning flesh, and hit the duracrete hard. As Vodo prepared to stab his downed foe, he watched as the Kel Dor's mask flipped off of his face, seemingly of its own accord. Faer'ell pathetically clawed at the mask as it floated toward Dralin, who caught it out of the air. Faer'ell's skin darkened as he gasped for breath, and when he tried to push himself up, he found Vodo's clawed foot stomping onto his chest, forcing him back to the ground and driving the remaining breath from his lungs. Aiming his lightsaber toward the ground, Vodo stabbed down, and felt his silver blade melt through the Kel Dor's head and into the duracrete. The smell of scorched flesh burnt the Twi'lek's nostrils, bringing with it the scent of another victory.
Taking stock of themselves, the dark Jedi caught their breath before turning to the door through which their One Sith adversaries had left, and prepared to face the mastermind of their recent difficulties.
Coruscant Industrial District
They chose their steps with care and patience. Vodo, clearly the eldest and most experienced of the group, himself had never infiltrated the lair of a Sith Lord let alone set out to kill one. Years of combat experience had seen him kill plenty of peers, equals, lesser, and soldiers of every variety. He’d fought ghosts, performed at the behest of the founders of the Orders, and had survived training bouts with some of the most renowned combat masters in Taldryan. Never had he set his sights on an enemy so powerful.
Dralin was well aware of the danger they were in. The building was likely rigged, booby-trapped to impede, maim, and harm intruders and attackers. It was as though the building read his thoughts. He grabbed Diclonius by the collar and threw him to the ground as the air around where their heads had been became a maelstrom of long, thin metallic darts. Beside them Lokasena hugged the ground as well, covering his head from the shrapnel remains of the darts. The projectiles would launch and crash into the polished stone wall across from their point of origin, exploding into fine fragments of lead and metal.
Vodo and Dralin projected as strong a defensive field around themselves as possible out of sheer instinct. Diclonius cried out in pain as he felt the stab of needles plunged into his flesh from above. Lokasena was nearly expressionless as blood dripped from his back except for the fire in his eyes. The Taldrya had seen that look once before and it had nearly forced him to kill the man. The darts expended themselves and the metal rain ceased.
As they all regained their feet Lokasena did his best to knock the needles from his thick clothing as he convinced the flesh beneath to mend itself. Vodo’s apprentice however remained on the ground, quivering and sweating. The shrapnel had caught him in his exposed side and had carved up the skin over his ribcage into small strips indistinguishable from the shreds of his jacket and shirt. Sena knelt down and applied the same healing aura to the young man, but only managed to stop the bleeding. He sensed pieces deeper in the Apprentice’s torso, several were close to vital organs and if he moved very much could find their way even deeper.
The mad Scientist looked up at his former master, We must leave him here or he will die.
Dralin glared at the Twi’lek awaiting his decision. Vodo towered over the shorter man and said nothing before continuing down the corridor. He could see the turbolift that marked the end of the hallway no more than 20 meters ahead. For all his emotional distance, he did care for the young man on the ground behind him, but the Sith tradition demanded more of him than sentimentality. If Diclonius found it within himself to survive long enough for them to return to him, Vodo would find a way to make him useful. If he couldn’t, or they died facing whatever awaited them atop the tower, it wouldn’t really matter.
“You can’t leave him here, Biask!” Dralin’s words were poisonous, “Dic deserves better than this! Biask! BIASK!”
As Vodo moved towards the Turbolift he dropped a small disk adorned only with a blinking light.
First Alliance Bank
The Dark Lord of the Sith sat across from a peevish, ineffectual bank officer. He’d been here for hours listening to the man blather on. Muz Ashen was on this planet for one reason and he disdained having to stall his plans on some self-important hack who had no idea what his job was. He’d been sharing silent conversation with his team, tracking their progress in planting a bug that would funnel funds to the DB from various sources and would take much more guile and wit than the Audit Monitor that had first began this purge possessed.
His silent composure was broken by the unexpected vibration of his Datapad on his thigh. He must have looked startled for a moment, allowing his usually indifferent gaze to slip momentarily. Viktir Oliveira stopped with his speech.
“Is there something the matter, Mr. Fastblade?”
Muz reached out to his brother and wife, I thought I said I was to remain undisturbed during this meeting…
They merely returned feelings of confusion and questioning. Muz removed the datapad from his pocket, “No, nothing at all. Please continue”.
He glanced through the text-only message while Mr. Oliveira continued.
Coruscant Industrial District
Sith Lord Ji-adi-itii sat in his chair comfortably watching the monitors embedded in his desk. The loss of his Apprentice had been unfortunate but there was always time to corrupt another Jedi Knight and take him down the dark road. He watched as the Turbolift from the first floor sped to the apex of the tower, not yet fully inhabited. Within were three Dark Jedi. He could sense their apprehension. They controlled their fear, fed on it, and grew stronger as a result. Perhaps a Jedi Knight would be unnecessary. One of these Dark Jedi would serve nicely and they were already half-way to siding with him.
He heard the lift doors hiss as they slid open down the hall. It was a short, straight corridor that led to the darkened room. The heavy, metallic clank of the Twi’lek grew louder with each step as they drew nearer as if he couldn’t already sense the three. The two lesser powered Humans pressed open the double doors to the room and strode in, lightsaber in hand but deactivated. The older, much taller, Twi’lek followed behind them.
The Cerean grimaced internally at the irony. He’d seen the holo-video of the Jedi coming to arrest then Chancellor Palpatine on suspicion of being a Sith Lord. He sat unmoving in his great chair staring at the three Dark Jedi arrayed before him.
The Twi’lek’s eyes locked with the Sith’s. No words were uttered for a moment before the taller of the two Human men roared aggressively and charged forward. With no hesitation Ji-adi-itii lashed out with the Dark Side and hurled the man into the wall with a sickening crash. The man did not rise from the floor.
He half smiled, “Come now. You can’t expect to defeat me”.
The half-machine Twi’lek opened his mouth to retort but found the air in his lungs unwilling to come forth. Ji-adi-itii continued, “I wasn’t finished speaking…”
The Krath Epis betrayed no visible fear as his lungs began to burn and his blood turned sour. His muscles began to twitch unwillingly as they struggled to fight the conflicting demands to do nothing from the brain and the instinct to survive strove for dominance. The Human beside him watched wide-eyed, nearly forgetting what he was there for. He reached out with the force and launched the objects on the Sith’s desk at him.
The Sith Lord released his hold on the Twi’lek and raised a barrier to protect himself, “Where are my manners. You are guests. Would you care for some Synth-wine? Corellian Whiskey? I import it myself, of course…”
The human man allowed his comrade to regain his composure, “We’ll help ourselves once your blood stains this room.”
“Ah, but I have a proposition for you. No!”, the Sith rose to his feet cutting the man off, “let me finish. I seem to have misplaced an asset of mine, one of great value. An Apprentice. He wasn’t one for conversation, but he was quite a useful tool. I find myself in need of a… How should I put it…”
The Cerean walked out from behind the desk, his hands visibly empty. He slowly removed the heavy robe that lay draped against his shoulders revealing a powerful, athletic physique and no visible weapons.
Ji-adi-itii continued, “We’re all reasonable beings. I’m sure one of you can come to a reasonable deal with me. I will take you under my wing. You will be free of the Brotherhood’s intrigues, guile, and politics. I will teach you the way of the true Dark Side. I will make you my Apprentice and we will discover the meaning of power. Together.”
Itii could feel the mental pressure keeping his words from persuading the Twi’lek. The alien was strong with the Force, incredibly talented, but too set in his ways. He wouldn’t bend. The man however… He could feel something wavering from within the man. Emotion pried at the man’s professionalism, hatred threatened to consume his reason.
“Do I sense… Conflict?”
The Twi’lek’s eyes darted to his compatriot for only a mere instant in concern. Before he knew it he was pinned to the wall, a nearby flame providing little illumination the room afforded seared his face.
“There were… Four of you, were there not? I know my Apprentices did not kill any of you, I watched the fight myself. Where is your friend, the thief?”
Ji-adi-itii knew well the fate of the youngest member of the Dark Jedi, “You didn’t leave him, did you? No… I’ve studied you, Dralin Fortea.”
Dralin activated his saber in defense, “How do you know my name?”
“Quite simple really. Your father told me to kill you.”
The Cerean observed the young man’s reaction. He could tell that Dralin knew his father had been the one to betray them but had not yet come to grips with the fact despite the swath of bad blood between them.
“Dralin. I know you wouldn’t abandon a friend. A lifelong friend at that. However, Mr. Biask here would. Even if it meant leaving his own Apprentice to die.”
Dralin could not feel the tendrils of the Dark Side slowly envelop his mind. All he could feel was rage. Pure, unadulterated rage. The Cerean merely cocked his head in feigned concern and motioned to the Twi’lek with a free hand. Dralin looked at his own hands, seeing the green shaft of light there. He took a step towards the Krath under the gleeful eyes of the Sith Lord. Ji-adi-itii increased the pressure on the Twi’lek, pressing him into the wall with a little more force eliciting an involuntary moan from Vodo’s mouth as air escaped his ribcage.
Dralin’s vision grew focused and red. All he could see was the man who had left Diclonius to die. Vodo would pay for abandoning his friend. He raised his saber high over his head, intending to cleave the half-machine, half-alien down the center. He had little time to react as the thrum of a flying saber blade emerged through the tip of his own weapon’s emitter. The Adegan crystal within, suddenly without sufficient direction, exploded as the powercell overloaded. Dralin’s hands were reduced to tangles of meat and tendon in a mere instant. In shock, he turned around to see Lokasena’s still outstretched throwing arm as he leaned heavily against the far wall with his other.
Master itii was furious. He released his hold on the Templar’s mind and poured his rage into the Priest. Vicious blue-white tentacles of lightning arced across the room into the Krath’s body. Lokasena screamed in agony as his internal organs were literally cooked in their own juices. The Sith spared nothing in his fury until he found the very same fury pouring into his own body from the entrance of the room.
There stood the Grand Master of the Dark Jedi Brotherhood. Ji-adi-itii’s eyes went wide in the mere instant he had before he was impaled by four blades of light, telekinetically hurled with a precision any marksman would be envious of.
Dragon-Class Skirmisher Fallen Spear
En Route to Antei
Vodo stood with the Grand Master overlooking the three bodies of his team. His Apprentice lay closest, and was nearly conscious as a medical droid applied bacta salve to the reassembled flesh under his right arm. Laying upon the spacious floor of the ship next to Diclonius lay Lokasena Corvinus. The Grand Master had spent hours meditating over the Priest, doing what he could to repair the extensive damage to the Krath’s organs. Finally, laying furthest from the two was Dralin Fortea. The man was conscious and awake but seemed completely unaware of the two standing nearby.
Vodo observed the man’s arms. They rested gently on his pelvis, ending in stubs where organic hands should have been. The Epis glanced down at his own prosthetics, regarding the decision he made to abandon his legs after the LAAT/I crash. He could not imagine the loss of something so valuable as his hands. Years of muscle memory with spells, the lightsaber, and simple tasks lost to the clumsy doppelganger provided by even modern prosthetics.
Biask, come, oddly the Grand Master’s words were not a command but a request. Vodo took another look at the three Dark Jedi and left the makeshift ward and followed the Dark Lord to his command chair.
“I’m glad to see you’re still alive. I would have regretted your loss having so soon decided to make you my mouthpiece…”
The former Consul was at a loss for words, “My lord?”
“You will be my Voice upon our return to Antei. I had meant for Halcyon to inform you but he thought it best to wait for your return. I am also glad to see that you accomplished most if not all of your mission. It will somewhat abate the fact that I had to curtail my own on your behalf.”
Still somewhat taken aback Vodo attempted to answer to the best of his ability, “I… I had no idea you were on-planet Lord Ashen. I merely dropped a beacon for the TalSec agents we brought with us to come retrieve my Apprentice.”
The Dark Lord stood and approached the Twi’lek. He smiled, but something bothered Vodo about that smile even though he was confident the Grand Master had nothing but paternal gladness in mind, “We can discuss use of House resources on Dark Council agendas another time. For now, I want you to rest. Upon our arrival on Antei you will be taking up your duties immediately. The Seneschal will need a complete report of your activities within several days as well. That is all”.
Vodo bowed and returned to the aft seeking the room Lord Ashen had pointed out to him earlier. He entered the small quarter to find Dralin standing before him. Though he was nearly three heads taller than the Human, Vodo found himself oddly put off by the man.
“Vodo…” Dralin’s expression was hollow as he brought up both of his arms to bear the stumps he so recently acquired, “I need you to recommend a good prostheticician.”
End Run-On “Tempest Omega” – Team 4